British Television Stations OKd to Broadcast Abortion Ads

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2011   |   11:42AM   |   London, England

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, the governmental body that monitors television advertising standards, has given the final approval for abortion businesses to advertise on television.

The new draft regulations open the floodgates for abortion ads and overturn the previous limits that had it so only nonprofit abortion businesses could advertise previously. That made it so the Marie Stopes International was the only one that could advertise. That ad came last year and prompted 4,500 complaints from Britons in response.

Now, private abortion businesses and the more than 35 hospitals that do abortions in England can advertise them, according to Sally Taber from Independent Healthcare Advisory Services.

She told the London Telegraph newspaper, “We would definitely welcome this, clearly hospitals want to raise awareness of services they provide, but some might choose not to advertise because of the sensitivity of the service – we have seen the problems in other countries when abortion clinics come under attack. Each provider will need to think this through very carefully.”

But Joanne Hill, from the pro-life charity Life, said she was in “utter disbelief” that the agency allowed full-fledged abortion advertising to anyone who wants to push abortions on television.

“To allow commercial abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is shocking and exceeds the bounds of responsible advertising,” she said. “By suggesting that abortion is yet another consumer choice human life is trivialized and the distress and heartache faced by a woman making this irrevocable decision, which ends the life of her child, is glossed over.”

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, also commented on the decision for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

“These new proposals to allow abortion commercials will cause many people bewilderment. Less than two years ago, the code of practice was reviewed, and a wide public consultation was held. A huge majority of people objected to changing the code to allow abortion adverts. So the code was not changed,” he said. “Then last year, with the revised code in force, the first TV advert for abortion was allowed anyway. The advert cleverly avoided mention of abortion. It was all done by implication. It depicted a young woman worried about her period being late. The advert asked: “Who can help her?” and the answer was a so-called pregnancy advice ‘charity’ that runs a lucrative chain of abortion clinics.”

“People complained that advertising abortion in this way was illegal, indecent, dishonest and untruthful, but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) approved the adverts anyway. The ASA has a long pro-abortion track record,” he continued. “The advertising industry is displaying a bias to support the devious and sleazy agenda of abortion providers, who have ideological and commercial interests in promoting abortion. There is a simple answer to this situation. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has specific powers under the Communications Act to tell Ofcom, the official regulator, to ban these adverts. He should do so.”

MP Nadine Dorries, who is pro-abortion but is sponsoring a bill in Parliament to give women better information before an abortion about the risks and alternatives, also opposed the new abortion advertising guidelines.

“Ultimately the woman should have the right to make her own choice, but often they are not given all the information they should be given regarding the abortion process,” she told the Telegraph. “The marketing techniques are so slick that many women are coming out of the process feeling as though they were rushed through it and given no choice.”

SPUC has criticized the amendments recently proposed by Nadine Dorries MP and Frank Field MP, which are supposedly designed to avoid women being subjected to biased counseling by abortion providers. SPUC has warned that the Dorries/Field approach could backfire, by leaving the regulation of counseling in the hands of pro-abortion health mandarins.

Without the television and radio commercials, MSI and other abortion businesses had relied on magazines, taxi and bus ads, and advertising through alternative newspapers. The television commercial asked if women “are late” — in terms of whether they missed their last period — and advises them to call a 24-hour abortion hotline. Marie Stopes International chief executive Dana Hovig told the Sun that the abortion business received 350,000 calls last year and hopes to increase that number with the television spots.

Last year 29,000 people signed a SPUC-organized paper petition to the prime minister against a proposal to allow abortion agencies to advertise on television and radio.